Maori school for Marl­bor­ough

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE - OLIVER LEWIS

A school with a kau­papa Maori world view as its guid­ing phi­los­o­phy will be cre­ated in Marl­bor­ough af­ter al­most a decade with­out any bilin­gual op­tions in the re­gion.

Omaka Marare has long held as­pi­ra­tions for a school taught in both te reo Maori and English, now with the help of Ren­wick School the project is set to be­come a re­al­ity.

Iwi and ed­u­ca­tion lead­ers have de­scribed the move as a sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment that re­flects the cul­tural land­scape and need for bilin­gual ed­u­ca­tion in Marl­bor­ough.

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion an­nounced on Tues­day it would pro­vide $1 mil­lion in fund­ing to cre­ate two class­rooms at Omaka Marae, just out­side Blenheim, as a satel­lite of Ren­wick School.

Pri­mary and in­ter­me­di­ate aged pupils would en­rol with Ren­wick School, but their classes would be taught at Omaka Marae, where they would learn in both te reo Maori and English.

Omaka Marae gen­eral man­ager Ki­ley Nepia said the an­nounce­ment was huge, com­ing as it did af­ter two years of dis­cus­sions with the min­istry.

Seed fund­ing from Te Pu­tahi­tanga o Te Wai­pounamu had been used to de­velop the pro­posal, and the marae had also held hui with whanau to seek their in­put, he said.

The marae had part­nered with Ren­wick School to de­liver the con­cept af­ter the min­istry ad­vised them it would be eas­ier to re­alise with an ex­ist­ing ed­u­ca­tion provider.

Nepia said the school would be called Te Pa Wananga, or the learn­ing vil­lage. A kau­papa Maori world view would be at the heart of ev­ery­thing the school did, he said.

‘‘The type of en­vi­ron­ment, the type of cur­ricu­lum and char­ter we’re go­ing to de­velop is go­ing to pro­vide a place for our kids to re­ally learn and en­gage mean­ing­fully with their cul­ture,’’ he said. Nepia said the suc­cess of pro­grammes like Pa Kids, held weekly at the marae to teach tamariki and their par­ents te reo Maori and Maori cul­ture, showed there was an ap­petite for the school.

‘‘When you’re able to bring them into that en­vi­ron­ment their cul­tural con­fi­dence grows and they do bet­ter – if we can ex­tend that to the [Te] Pa Wananga model we know it will be ben­e­fi­cial for our tamariki Maori,’’ he said.

‘‘We know that Te Pa Wananga will be the in­cu­ba­tor of the next gen­er­a­tion of our lead­er­ship. These kids will be­come the nav­i­ga­tors, the lead­ers of our tribes, of our fam­i­lies and of our marae.’’

The ul­ti­mate goal of Te Pa Wananga was to cre­ate a seam­less learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment from early child­hood through to ter­tiary ‘‘where suc­ceed­ing as Maori and be­ing Maori is not an ex­tra cur­ricu­lum ac­tiv­ity, but is at the cen­tre and heart of ev­ery­thing we do’’.

Nepia and Ren­wick School prin­ci­pal Si­mon Heath said there had been a lack of bilin­gual ed­u­ca­tion op­tions in Marl­bor­ough ever since bilin­gual units at Whitney Street School, Bo­hally In­ter­me­di­ate School, and Waikawa Bay School closed down.

Heath said Marl­bor­ough was the only re­gion in the coun­try with­out bilin­gual or to­tal im­mer­sion op­tions, so Te Pa Wananga would be a ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment for ed­u­ca­tion in Marl­bor­ough, which re­ally is em­brac­ing the true cul­tural land­scape – at last there’s a choice’’.

The Ren­wick School prin­ci­pal said the next step was de­vel­op­ing a cur­ricu­lum, seek­ing preen­rol­ments and re­cruit­ing a teacher. The school would also have to al­ter its zon­ing pol­icy to al­low stu­dents from out­side the area to en­rol.

Heath said the aim was to start the school with 16 to 20 stu­dents, which would gen­er­ate one teacher. The $1m in fund­ing from the min­istry would cover the cost of two new class­rooms, how­ever Heath said a dis­cus­sion needed to be had about ‘‘whether the class­rooms come first or the kids’’. ‘‘Be­cause it might be we can have the kids on site work­ing in that space we’ve al­ready got from the start of next year, but the class­rooms might not be up and run­ning,’’ he said.

Heath said Te Pa Wananga could even­tu­ally be­come a stand­alone school.

PHOTO: SCOTT HAM­MOND/FAIR­FAX NZ

Omaka Marae gen­eral man­ager Ki­ley Nepia, back left, with Ren­wick School prin­ci­pal Si­mon Heath, back right, and some of the chil­dren who take part in the Pa Kids pro­gramme who could be po­ten­tial stu­dents at Te Pa Wananga.

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